Property values in Merced County have increased more than 6 percent over the past year, according to Merced County Assessor Barbara Levey.
The Assessor's Office recently released the property assessment roll for 2013, which shows an overall increase of 6.54 percent over last year's figures.
"I think it's a positive sign for the housing market and the economy," Levey said, noting that agricultural land values remain strong. "We're seeing some strong sales and it's encouraging. It's pretty consistent with what we're seeing in most valley counties."
Each year, the Assessor's Office reviews every residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial property in Merced County.
The roll accurately reflects the assessed values of 85,577 taxable real properties and 7,672 unsecured assessments within the county.
The city of Dos Palos saw the largest increase in property values — about 11.12 percent, while Livingston had the smallest increase at 3.85 percent.
Levey said Dos Palos was hit the hardest during the recession, which is the reason for the larger increase. "They had fallen the hardest and experienced the biggest negative decrease," Levey said.
The 2013 gross local roll increased $17.2 billion over the previous year's total of $16.2 billion.
Andy Krotik, real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Gonella Realty, said a low supply of homes coupled with a high demand is what's driving the increase in property values.
"It's a great time to sell because we're getting multiple offers, and we have less than a month supply of inventory," Krotik said, noting the current inventory is the lowest he's seen in 24 years. "When there's a lack of supply and high demand, it creates an increase in values."
Krotik said while the pool of buyers is increasing, more people are qualifying for a loan. For example, only 12 percent of the county's population could qualify for median priced home in 2005, Krotik said.
Today, about 70 percent qualify for a home priced around $148,000, he said.
Krotik said Merced County is feeling the recovery quicker than most areas, and will continue to see improvement in values unless there's a spike in interest rates.
"As long as the interest rate stays competitive, I don't think you'll see any slow down in the increase in property values," he said.
Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@merced sunstar.com.